This post is part of a 10-part series celebrating the 20th anniversary of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, specifically the sentence, “”Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities.”
When you live together and have to make all major and sometimes minor decisions together, those flaws are bound to peak out and call attention to themselves. When you see your spouse’s flaws, it’s all too easy to let fear take over.
“Wait a minute,” you say, “How long is this imperfection going to last? Will you EVER get over this? Why are you like this? Can you just get over this imperfection of yours, PLEASE?”
It can be really easy to fear not only each others flaws, but also the potential trajectory we fear that those flaws will take.
For example, if our spouse shows a tendency to be a little… unconcerned with neatness. We can fear that not only do they leave their socks lying around now, but we’re probably just stuck with a slob forever, who will never do the dishes or even notice that our house smells like feet. They’ll never change.
Or if our spouse shows a tendency to be a little…. overly concerned with checking their phone. We can fear that they would rather be alone with their phone than with us. And we’re sure they’re not doing anything productive. And probably they’re just addicted to it. Yes, it’s become an addiction and we will be left to raise our children completely alone because our spouse is now married to their phone. They’ll never change.
One problem with letting fear creep into our perception of our spouses is that we start to lose HOPE in them. Hope that they can change. And when we do that, we start not believing in them. They can feel our loss of hope in them. They may even start to believe it about themselves. Then what are you left with? Hopelessness, distrust, fear.
Don’t ever give up hope in your spouse’s ability to change. They need you to believe in them. You need you to believe in them. Even if they don’t want to change yet (or ever), don’t doubt their ability to do it.
I think sometimes we get confused of our role in our marriages. What is our role exactly? Their parent? Their buddy? Are we responsible for THEIR self-improvement?
Could be. Sometimes. But I think more times, no. I think feeling like we are responsible to correct our spouse’s flaws will lead to nagging, frustration, hopelessness and fear. And it will probably lead our spouse to the crazy house (because it will drive them CRAZY) or at least to want to sleep on the couch.
So what is our role? I think it is to love. I think it is to have faith in our spouse, to believe in them. And when it’s hard? And when we think they’ve done nothing to “deserve” it? Believe in them anyway.
Sometimes we need to remember why we married them. Remember how smart, funny, attractive, inspiring we found them. Remember they still are smart, funny, attractive and inspiring. Sometimes our lens just needs a little cleaning.
Everyone can change. You can change. I can change. And even if our spouses don’t choose to change as quickly as we would like or in the exact way we would like, remember- that’s ok. You can love them anyway. Choose to hope. Choose to love.
Remember perfect love casteth out fear.
* I’m not talking about abuse or serious addiction flaws here. If those are their flaws, seek some professional help.